Analysts dissect Microsoft's Windows 8 pitch

Was the long-anticipated debut the best Windows send-off in nearly 20 years, or just 'bupkis?'

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Milanesi, however, had the most insightful comment of the day as she broke down the keynote's sequencing, and what that progression said about Microsoft's strategy.

"They started with talking about existing users upgrading their software, then moved on to OEMs and finally their own hardware," said Milanesi of the Sinofsky-Larson/Angiulo-Ballmer chronology. "That line of positioning shows that the core of their message remains software, and that the Surface is a marketing vehicle for them."

By starting off with Windows 7's success -- Sinofsky said Microsoft had sold over 670 million licenses, while Ballmer repeated the number as the possible pool for developers' Windows 8 apps -- and then touting the $39.99 Windows 8 upgrade, the company tipped its hand.

Even though the company has dipped into hardware, even though Ballmer recently told shareholders, "We see ourselves as a devices and services company," the reality is different, Milanesi agued.

"The core of their business is still the software," she said while reading between the lines. "That's the way they're thinking about their business. It's software still."

A keynote does not a company, or even a product make, but the analysts had strong opinions on how effectively Microsoft made its pitch today.

"[This is the] most polished Windows launch since [Windows] 95. Perhaps more so," Gartenberg tweeted during the event.

Moorhead agreed: "Best Microsoft launch I've seen."

But Gillett took exception. "None of it was news," he said. "There were no interesting nuggets. At the end, all I could think was 'Is that all?' And they continue to be unhelpful and opaque in their communication about Windows 8 and Windows RT, and the differences between them."

The opening keynote, and several other videos -- including one that introduced the Surface RT -- will be available later today for on-demand viewing from Microsoft's website, probably its News Center site.

See more Computerworld Windows 8 launch coverage including news, reviews and blogs.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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